Bruce Wayne would be proud.
Christian and Sibi Bale yesterday helped break ground on Together California, a new foster care community in Palmdale co-founded by the couple and Eric Esrailian. (Esrailian produced The Promise, which starred Bale.) The community, which will prioritize keeping brothers and sisters together, is set to consist of twelve foster homes and a 7,000-square-foot community center.
More from Deadline
Led by Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger , whose district includes Palmdale, the city gave $1.2 million dollars to get construction going. That followed a two-year fundraising effort with private donors led by Bale and Esrailian, who also happens to be a health sciences clinical professor of medicine at UCLA.
“When I first heard about the model of Together California, I was all in,” said Barger in a statement. “I made a commitment to bringing it to the Antelope Valley and appreciate the City of Palmdale for stepping up to also support the program. Keeping siblings in foster care together in quality environments will undoubtedly bring life-changing stability to some of our most vulnerable youth.
Bale got involved in foster care out of a desire to find a more hands-on way for him and his children to help others. The issue was especially important, he told AP, because Los Angeles County has more foster kids than anywhere else in the United States.
“Foster care has always been an important issue to me and I’m aware of similar models in the U.S. and globally, and it’s been a goal to bring it to California,” the Oscar-winner said in a statement. “I’m thankful to my longtime partner Eric Esrailian and to so many people in our community for rallying to support these families for years to come.”
The project was a brainchild of the actor’s, according to AP, hatched about 15 years ago.
“I didn’t think it was going to take that long,” he said. “I had a very naive idea about kind of getting a piece of land and then, bringing kids in and the brothers and sisters living together and sort of singing songs like the Von Trapp family in The Sound of Music.”
It’s taken a long time, but Bale says his own experiences as a parent inspired him to persevere.
“When I started this, I had a beautiful three year old daughter,” he recalled.” She’s now in college. Got a nine year old son. I couldn’t bear imagining if we weren’t around, and they would have to be split up.”
On any given day, there are nearly 437,000 children in foster care in the United States. In California, there are over 60,000 children in the foster care system. Los Angeles County alone has over 25,000 foster youth in care who have experienced abuse, neglect or been abandoned. More than 75% of siblings in California’s foster care system are separated.
The goal is to provide an alternative model of foster care by prioritizing keeping brothers and sisters together and serve as a vital resource for the surrounding area. It will offer enriching services to both the children living there and the local community, functioning as a center for academic, therapeutic, social, and recreational activities for young people. Additionally, this facility will serve as a communal safe space for the neighborhood, facilitating access to public resources and offering educational and financial training programs.
“These are people’s lives. And we need to be able to have them land on their feet when they age out. There’s so much involved in this,” observed Bale, who hopes the Palmdale project is just the beginning for Together California.
“It’s something that is incredibly satisfying for me, and I want to be involved every step of the way,” he said. “Maybe this is the first one, and maybe this is the only one, and that would be great. But I’m quietly hoping that there’ll be many of these.”
The project is expected to be finished in April of 2025.
Best of Deadline